Poetry is a slow fuse lit from the distance of decades.
Starting up a small poetry press from scratch is not something I would recommend to anyone – ever. There are hundreds of small presses, poetry magazines and pamphlets in the uk so why establish a new one? It’s like – to quote the late Seamus Heaney – dropping a feather into the Grand Canyon and waiting for an echo. If you look at the Mslexia Indie Press Guide 3rd Edition or the Contemporary Small Press Directory you’ll see that there are thousands of every conceivable type – and that’s just the beginning! It is a wonderful time to be publishing – the technology and the networking infrastructure makes all this possible. It is far more professional and polished than the 1970s when I first started reading small press publications.
Quite simply this is unfinished business on my part. Thirty plus years ago I started writing poetry and had a lot of success. I was published in many small press and mainstream poetry publications even arts council anthologies. But it took an age between submitting poems and having them accepted. Eventually I had enough for a first collection and I sent them off to Faber and Faber.
Quite quickly I had a reply saying I was a ‘strong contender’ for publication and then, aeons later, a letter of rejection. At that point I stopped writing and decided to use the time to put my energies into a small press magazine called Poetry London Newsletter.
The small, photocopied listings magazine stapled together and sent out to local libraries in all the London boroughs became quite a success over time. It evolved, through a succession of better technology and proper distribution, into Poetry London.
I did not want to call it Poetry London when first starting out because I was unsure of the copyright surrounding the 1940s publication of the same name edited by Tambimuttu. However in the intervening years it had earned the title through dint of upping both the quality of the design and the content.
At that point I handed it over to 6 editors and concentrated on teaching and using the online networking skills I had learned to produce websites for museums as well as work as an educational consultant for a film company and a free-to air-TV station. Later I built and filmed my own teacher to teacher TV station. L4LTV
Fast forward three decades and the Majuscule Press is my afterlife; a return to writing and publishing my own work and, possibly, over time, the work of others. The same barriers exist to publication – submission to magazines that take months to reply and then years to get poems into a book via a small press pamphlet.
This is an attempt to truncate that process. If I am going to “make” a book of poems from scratch then it is going to be through the entity of this press. This website will document that process from start to finish.
Leon Cych 10 Feb 2021